Hy-Vee cuts pro purse in half
Written by: Timothy Carlson
Date: Wed Apr 03 2013
As a result, the men’s and women’s winner’s prize was reduced from the 2011 and 2012 payout of $151.500 to $100,000, with even greater cuts to 2nd through 10th places. For example, the runner-up prize was reduced from $75,000 to $20,000, 3rd place was cut from $50,000 to $15,000 4th place from $25,000 to $10,000 and 5th place from $20,000 to $9,500.
Hy-Vee Triathlon media relations director Ruth Comer said the prize money decrease was part the Midwest grocery chain’s long term planning to insure the long term viability of the elite race to go along with the concurrent 3,000-entrant age group event and an increased emphasis on 20 IronKids races in the Midwest, which Hy-Vee serves as the title sponsor.
“To keep our event sustainable, we had to take a look for budget reasons and reduce our prize purse for pros this year,” said Comer. “But even this reduction this year to meet budgetary needs, the Hy-Vee Triathlon will remain at the top of the sport for professional payout in Olympic distance events. From the outset, we wanted to reward professional triathletes on a par with what we thought they should be rewarded. Pro purses had traditionally been small. The winner’s shares were small and not all finishers shared in the purse. We wanted to change some of those things and we think we helped bring up prize purses at other events.”
The World Triathlon Corporation, which also owns the 5150 series as well as the IronKids brand, has increased its Ironman World Championship total prize purse to $650,000 with $120,000 awarded to the men’s and women’s winners. Back in 2003, the Ironman World Championship purse lagged behind the then-audacious prize purse offered by Life Time Fitness for its Minneapolis event. Still, Hy-Vee leads the WTC in some aspects – it offers payouts to 30th place, which sustains the careers of all its pros better than Ironman Hawaii’s cutoff of prize money to the top 10 men’s and women’s finishers. Today, the ITU World Triathlon Series Grand Final has a total purse of $280,000 with $30,000 going to the winners. The ITU devotes more money to its year end series points purse, which totals $670,000 with $70,000 going to the men’s and women’s winners.
From 2007 through 2010, the Hy-Vee elite event served as an ITU World Cup and offered a $200,000 first place prize for the men’s and women’s winners. In 2011, it became a non-drafting 5150 series event and redistributed the prize purse to reflect the new brand. The Hy-Vee winner’s take was adjusted to $151,500 and added several swim, bike and run primes of $5,150 each.
Sadly, Comer says there are no plans at this time to award primes at this year's race.
Top United States pro Sarah Haskins, who won the $75,000 second place prize last year, plus $30,900 in prime awards, was philosophical about the reduction. “I think that as our sport evolves, sometimes there has to be change,” said Haskins, who is expecting the birth of a baby this summer and will not be competing at Hy-Vee this year. “Maybe for this event to continue for many years to come, this cut was a necessity to sustain the race. If it is necessary to keep the event going for many years rather than have Hy-Vee happen just one more year and have to end it, this might be seen as a positive thing. It is still a great prize purse and it makes it possible for many professionals to make a go of it and keep racing.”
Haskins, who won the Life Time Fitness / Toyota Challenge series title three times, knows that Life Time Fitness did indeed adapt, spreading out its $500,000 one race purse at the Minneapolis race and distributing its and Toyota’s investment in smaller amounts to a season long series of races.
Comer said that Hy-Vee’s action was not a simple adjustment to a sometimes challenging economy, but was rather part of Hy-Vee’s long term vision to promote health and fitness for all ages through the sport of triathlon.
“This will be the 7th year for Hy-Vee Triathlon,” said Comer. “Every year we take a look at the experience and how to make it a better event going forward. At the same time we are trying to grow our series of Hy-Vee IronKids events. In our third season, we now have 20 IronKids races in six states as they have grown in popularity. We feel those races are vital to the growth of multisport. In the course of expanding those races, we look at all our sponsorship – and try to determine what is the best way to have the elite race remain top caliber and at the same time continue to invest in the invest the future of multisport. In doing that, we looked at our budget resources and saw what we need to do and how to allocate those funds.”
Comer added: “The overall economy was not a major factor concern in our decision. We have been concerned with costs to put on the race and have made certain course changes to keep costs low – in particular this year we will have the start and finish of the race at Grays Lake rather maintain the expenses of incurred by having two transitions. I think the main consideration was to make sure the event would be sustainable and also get more young people interested in the sport and persons of all ages can compete from childhood to the oldest age groupers. Parents say their children look forward all year to the IronKids race and those kids join local tri club because of Hy-Vee. It has been another way to meet our main objective to put the spotlight on health and fitness and physical activity for people of all ages.”
Through it all, Comer says that Hy-Vee values the contribution of the professionals and finds their presence has been vital in serving their overall cause to promote fitness and health: “The professional event has played a big role in increasing the credibility of our event and attract age groupers who could race anywhere but did decide to come to Hy-Vee thanks to the attraction of the professional race. The pros are nice people and have made many appearances at local events which have made a very positive impact -- and our residents like being around them.”
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